Good battery life
128 GB storage
Performance can feel sluggish
Camera is a weak point
Start on Android 10
OnePlus has long been the bastion of value for money in the Android world, but as the prices of its flagship phones rise, more room has been made for lower-cost devices that still have some great features. The original OnePlus Nord is an example of this, with a solid design and good battery life. OnePlus is now expanding the series – with the new OnePlus Nord N10 5G.
The new device is currently only available in Europe and the UK. However, OnePlus announces that it will soon be brought to North America along with the also new OnePlus Nord N100. At £ 329, it’s still not a cheap phone, but it’s definitely budget conscious. Should you buy it? We tested the OnePlus Nord N10 5G to find out.
Editor’s note: Since the Nord N10 5G is first available in Europe, we have received a European model to test. When tested in the United States, the phone had technical limitations related to 5G bands and other network technologies. The North American model should not encounter any of these problems.
Design and display
Midrange phones have gotten a lot better, and many of the best midrange devices now feature a modern design with an edge-to-edge display. The OnePlus Nord N10 5G is no exception to this rule. The display has nicely rounded corners, at the top left of the display there is a (relatively large) hole cutout for the front-facing camera and so on. The only thing that breaks the illusion is a big chin at the bottom of the display, but it certainly isn’t a deal breaker.
The back of the phone looks a lot like other modern OnePlus devices. At the top left of the back of the phone is a circular camera module that houses the quad lens camera. The only difference, at least in looks, is the back-mounted fingerprint sensor, which generally worked fine.
Of course, the look and feel are a little different. The back of the phone looks nice but is made of plastic and you can feel it. It’s common on phones in this price range, but I would still love to see mid-range phones made from higher quality materials.
The phone looks great, but it looks and feels different – you know it’s made of plastic.
You get all the usual features around the edges: a USB-C port, a volume rocker, and a power button. There’s also a strange hole at the bottom. After reading the instructions, I discovered that it was a “headphone jack”. Strange.
The Nord N10 5G offers a 6.49-inch display with a resolution of 1080p and looks great. No, it’s not a high-end 1440p display, but at least it’s a 90Hz, high refresh rate display. It gets bright enough to be used in direct sunlight, has relatively vivid colors, and is more than good enough for most.
Power and battery
The OnePlus Nord N10 5G offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 processor as well as 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. It’s not a bad set of specs, and in fact, it’s really nice that the base model comes with 128GB of storage. But there are other phones that feel faster in the price range. A perfect example of this is the Google Pixel 4a, which is roughly the same price and has a Snapdragon 730G – and the high-end Pixel 4a 5G, which is admittedly a bit more expensive, has a Snapdragon 765G. While the standard Pixel 4a does not outperform the OnePlus Nord 10 5G in benchmarks, Google’s phones react very quickly in practice and are more up-to-date with software.
The phone performance limitations are sometimes felt. Sometimes the keyboard takes a second or two to load, and sometimes it can skip a beat while typing to actually show the character on the display. Basic operations are relatively smooth most of the time, but there are times when you are not reminded that you have a budget device.
Benchmark results confirm this. The Nord N10 got 5G 281,214 in AnTuTu and 606 single-core, 1,804 multi-core in GeekBench 5. Playing on the phone is a decent experience. Games take a while to load, but the actual gameplay worked well in our testing with games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9.
The phone’s battery has a capacity of 4,300 mAh and could easily be used for a full day. Even so, I recommend turning off the phone’s constantly on display. The OnePlus Nord 10 5G has an LCD panel. When the display function is activated, the backlight remains on even if the display is switched off. This can take some serious drain on the battery, and with the feature turned on, I found that the battery was so degraded that I had to charge the phone before the end of a day of moderate use.
All-day battery is no problem, and Warp Charge 30T fast charge is a differentiator at this price point.
Fortunately, the phone supports OnePlus’s Warp Charge 30T and comes with a charger. Since the European model of the device was shipped to me, I have not tested the charger here in the US. However, having tested OnePlus’ fast charging in the past, chances are the phone can get a majority of its charge back in around 30 minutes. That is a differentiator at this price point.
The Nord 10 5G, as the name suggests, also supports 5G thanks to the new Snapdragon 690 chipset and the Snapdragon X51 modem from Qualcomm. The result is you get Sub-6 5G connectivity, but not the super-fast mmWave that carriers like Verizon have touted. For most, however, this shouldn’t be a big deal – mmWave is barely available, and you really shouldn’t buy or avoid a phone that relies on mmWave support.
The OnePlus Nord 10 5G offers a four-lens camera system, but it’s not necessarily as versatile as you might think. While you’d think that among these four lenses there is a telephoto lens, sadly there isn’t one. Instead, you get a 64-megapixel main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultrawide camera, a 5-megapixel depth sensor, and a 2-megapixel macro lens. I really wish OnePlus would get rid of the macro lens – it’s useless.
The cameras are fine, but not groundbreaking. This is where the Pixel 4a stands out.
Photos are fine, but not groundbreaking. If you want the best photos on a phone in this price range, you’d better go for the Pixel 4a, which has flagship-level image processing.
In general, the phone didn’t provide as much detail as I would have liked to see. The colors were also a bit muted and not as vivid as I would normally expect from a 2020 phone. This is especially true for trick shooting situations, for example with a light background and darker foreground. Making sure HDR is on helps in these situations, but doesn’t completely solve the problem.
The OnePlus Nord 10 5G comes with the OnePlus OxygenOS 10.5, and it’s a little frustrating to see that it doesn’t come with the latest OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11. This newer software is already widespread and only frustrates the Nord N10 5G when it comes to longer-term software support. That said, the overall experience with any modern OnePlus phone is still good, and customizing OxygenOS Android is still simple and easy to navigate.
You also get some additional features. For example, the phone has OnePlus’s Zen mode which allows you to restrict your own access to your phone for a limited time. Other functions are the App Locker, with which you can hide apps behind the fingerprint sensor or a PIN code. Basic theme options make it easy to customize the look of the phone, and OnePlus is especially good at keeping duplicate apps and bloat to a minimum.
Price, guarantee and availability
The OnePlus Nord 10 5G is available in Europe and the UK for 329 pounds sterling, which equates to about $ 430 right away – although I would assume the US price will be under $ 400. At some point the device will be released in the USA, but we don’t have a date for it yet.
The device comes with the 12-month standard warranty from OnePlus, which practically only covers manufacturer defects.
The OnePlus Nord 10 5G is a nice phone. It looks and works fine despite the plastic construction, except for a few cases where performance is a little poor. However, the main selling point for the Nord 10 5G compared to the competition seems to be its 5G support. And if you’ve read anything we’ve written over the past few years, you know you shouldn’t buy a phone as it supports 5G.
If you’re a OnePlus fan who wants a phone in this lower price range, this is a great option as it offers comparable performance for the money, a solid display, simple software, and good battery life.
Is there a better alternative?
If you’re ready to ditch 5G support (and that’s really not a huge loss), it’s worth getting the Google Pixel 4a instead of the OnePlus Nord 10 5G. The Pixel 4a offers a better camera and an even simpler software experience, even though it’s at a slightly higher £ 350.
If you really want 5G support and can afford to spend a little more, the Pixel 4a 5G is the way to go, though it may be a full price range higher at £ 499. If you’re feeling really adventurous, consider the iPhone SE, which has better performance than any phone we’ve mentioned and a solid camera, although the design is a little dated.
If you live in the UK or the OnePlus Nord is available elsewhere, this should be considered before the N10. It’s £ 379 in the UK, and it’s a much more tech-savvy phone for just a little more.
How long it will take?
The OnePlus Nord 10 5G should last a solid two years, but should really slow down at this point. However, the phone does not have an official water resistance rating. To bring it to two years you have to be careful with it.
Should you buy one?
No. You should spend a little more money on the Google Pixel 4a instead.